By Diane Forrest
Egg rolling is a traditional game played at Easter with hard boiled eggs. The game began years ago when children in Germany and England began rolling eggs down hills, perhaps to symbolize the rolling of the stone away from Jesus's tomb. This tradition, along with the Easter Bunny was brought over to the United States by the settlers.
In 1814, President James Madison's wife, Dolly, began this tradition at the White House. Children would bring their own eggs and roll them on the lawn at the State Capitol, but in 1877 a new lawn was planted, and a law preventing the use of it for a children's playground was signed. At the request of many children, President Rutherford B. Hayes then moved it to the grounds at the White House. The tradition was not held during President Franklin Roosevelt's term, but was brought back during President Eisenhower's wife, Maime.
Some other facts about the White House Easter Egg Roll include:
- By 1899, the White House Easter Egg Roll had become quite popular, with over 8,000 people in attendance. This year, over 30,000 were invited to attend the event.
- The Easter Egg Roll has been held at the White House every year except during World War I, World War II and the Truman Renovation of the White House, when it was moved to other Washington locations or cancelled.
- President Ronald Reagan was the first President to hide autographed eggs for children to find in the Egg Hunt.
- President Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon were the first to include the White House Easter Bunny in the festivities.
- President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush were the first to affix the signature of the President and First Lady to the commemorative egg.
- First Lady Grace Coolidge was known for her love of pets, but none were more famous than her pet raccoon, Rebecca, who made an appearance at the White House Easter Egg Roll in the 1920’s.
- President Barack Obama was the first President to hold the annual Easter Egg Roll indoors in 2011.
This will be the 134th annual White House Easter Egg Roll with more than 30,000 people visiting the South Lawn for games, stories, and, of course, the traditional egg roll. Some of the performers who will be in attendance include:
- Fairy Twinkle Toes – AbraKidabra – Big Green Rabbit – Captain Planet – Bugs Bunny – Daffy Duck
- Finn & Jake – Scooby Doo – Alex the Lion from Madagascar 3 – Penguins of Madagascar – Po the Panda Miffy the Bunny – Katsuma and Poppet from Moshi Monsters – Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!
- Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street – Arthur – Buddy from Dinosaur Train – Cat in the Hat
- Clifford the Big Red Dog – Curious George – Elmo – Hooper from PBS Kids – Martha from Martha Speaks Princess Presto from Super WHY! – Ruff Ruffman from Fetch! – Sid the Science Kid – Super WHY! Wonder Red from Super WHY! – Word Girl – Woofster from Super WHY! – The Smurfs
- Charlie Brown and Snoopy – Power Panther – Slapshot and Air Slapshot
- George, Tom, Abe and Teddy from the Racing Presidents – Screech – Topspin and Slice
- Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head – Witzy Duck from Suzy’s Zoo – Power Rangers – Smokey Bear
- Babar and Badou – Doki the Dog – Papa, Mama and Junior Bunny – Peter Rabbit – Spot – Maisy Nutbrown Hare – Sponge Bob – Dora the Explorer – Diego – Spider-Man – Iron Man – Thor
- Captain America – Yoohoo & Chewoo from Yoohoo and Friends – Alvin and the Chipmunks – Clicky
Ticket holders to the event entered an online lottery in early March. For more information about the egg roll and to see pictures and videos from past egg rolls, click here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll